Capello sends harsh message

2010-06-02 07:20
London - Fabio Capello's decision to leave Theo Walcott out of his final 23-man squad for the World Cup has sent a clear message to England's stars as they head to South Africa.

Walcott is the latest high-profile victim of Capello's ruthless determination to stamp his authority on his teams and his absence should leave the squad in no doubt that their manager won't tolerate underachievement in the finals.

The Arsenal winger was widely expected to feature in Capello's plans for the World Cup in South Africa after playing a significant role in the qualifying campaign.

He appeared to underline his importance with a hat-trick in the vital 4-1 victory over Croatia in September 2008, but injuries and a series of erractic performances for Arsenal this season have changed Capello's thinking.

Walcott showed his pace remains a tremendous asset when he briefly flickered into life in last week's friendly win over Mexico, yet his decision-making is poor and his crossing well below the standard required at the highest level.

He had been receiving lessons in delivering the ball from David Beckham but in the end Capello decided that the more experienced Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon would provide better options on the right flank.

Four years ago Walcott was selected by then England coach Sven Goran Eriksson for the finals in Germany, even though the teenager had yet to make his Premier League debut.

Walcott has since admitted he didn't deserve that call-up but he felt certain he would make it this time and being disgarded by Capello came as a big shock.

Yet it whouldn't have been so surprising if he had remembered how easily Capello dispatched Michael Owen into international exile despite the Manchester United striker's superb goal-scoring record for his country.

Walcott said: "I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello's decision.

"I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament."

With Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry declared fit after his struggle to recover from an ankle injury, Walcott was the headline-making omission as Capello trimmed his provisional 30-man squad by seven players.

The others to miss out were Sunderland striker Darren Bent, Tottenham duo Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson, Everton left-back Leighton Baines, West Ham midfielder Scott Parker and Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.

Bent can feel slightly hard done by after scoring 25 goals this season - far more than Emile Heskey managed, but Capello believes the Aston Villa targetman is a better foil for Wayne Rooney.

Baines hardly helped his cause with nervous displays in England's last two friendlies and the revelation that he would suffer home sickness in South Africa because he would be away from his family for up to six weeks.

Capello kept faith with Tottenham defender Ledley King despite his shaky performance against Mexico and struggles with a chronic knee injury.

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher will also provide defensive cover, while Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is an alternative to Barry if his team-mate breaks down in training.

Joe Cole, Chelsea's skilful playmaker, will be Capello's wild-card.

Capello had been unimpressed with Cole since he returned from a long-term knee injury, but his form in brief appearances for the Blues over the last month of the season were enough to persuade the Italian to restore him to the squad.

John Terry has no doubts Capello will have England finely-tuned by the time they kick off against the United States in Rustenburg on June 12.

"The manager will have us ready, I'm certain of that," Terry said. "The attention to detail he shows, even after matches, stressing we need to work on new things, is great.

"He leaves no stone unturned. With a bit of luck and with everybody fit we've got as good a chance as anyone."

England's final 23-man squad:

Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City)

Defenders: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa)

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Man City), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)

More In This Category

Thierry Henry would never consider playing for France again even if new coach and former teammate Laurent Blanc asked him to.
An emotional Diego Maradona says he was betrayed as Argentina coach by national team director Carlos Bilardo.
Carlos Alberto Parreira has left South Africa at the end of his contract with Bafana Bafana, headed for his home in Rio de Janeiro.
Ghana defender John Mensah has refuted claims of a spat with the Ghana Football Association over unpaid Soccer World Cup bonuses.
Comments
Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Sport Talk